Capitol to Capitol | Aug. 2, 2021


Senate Moves Forward on Infrastructure; Passage Expected Later This Week

On July 28, the U.S. Senate voted to formally open debate on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package following agreement on the bill between a bipartisan group of senators and President Joe Biden. The bill text was released late Sunday night, though a summary posted at the end of last week showed over $550 billion in new spending and the reauthorization of hundreds of billions of dollars in existing spending. Of the new funding, $110 billion is for roads and bridges, $66 billion is for passenger and freight rail, and nearly $40 billion is for public transit. New broadband funding totals $65 billion, some of which will be allocated to states as grants. Electrical power and grid infrastructure would receive $73 billion, while resiliency and cybersecurity would receive more than $45 billion. Water infrastructure would receive $55 billion, including dedicated funding for replacement of lead service lines and for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances cleanup.

The core of the bill includes the bipartisan Senate-passed Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act and the bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bills from the Commerce Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with the Energy Infrastructure Act approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. A fiscal score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not been published, although the expectation is the bill will be fully paid for through several offsets, including more than $200 billion in unused COVID relief, recouping fraudulently paid unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, the return of unused enhanced federal UI relief, and the increases in tax revenue resulting from the bill’s impact on economic growth.

Passage in the Senate is expected later this week, but it is unclear when and how the House will move forward, and whether that chamber will seek to amend the package and return it to the Senate or hold off on voting until the Senate passes a much larger partisan reconciliation package later this summer or early fall.

Stay tuned to NCSL for a more detailed breakdown of the bill later this week. You can also catch an update from NCSL staff as part of Base Camp 2021.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth (energy, transportation, water) and Abbie Gruwell (broadband) 

Efforts to Alert Americans to Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA)

The White House and the Department of the Treasury issued statements on July 28 identifying key resources and tools to help American tenants and landlords access Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds. The ERA program makes funding available to assist households unable to pay rent or utilities by directly providing funds to states, U.S. territories, local governments, and Indian tribes or Tribally Designated Housing Entities. The ERA program (ERA1) under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 runs through September 2022, and $25 billion was sent by the Treasury Department to states and localities until February 2021. An additional $21.5 billion in ERA assistance under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will be available until September 2025. The federal eviction moratorium, first issued in September 2020, expired on Saturday, July 31. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Deanna Ross

Department of Education Announces $3.2 Billion for Higher Education Emergency Relief

The American Rescue Plan funds will support students and provide relief at over 1,800 institutions, including many historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Austin Reid

In Every Edition

Read the July 26 Capitol to Capitol

NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL’s Washington staff advocates on behalf of state legislatures before Congress, the White House and federal agencies in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies’ positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.

NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.

  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health
  • Margaret Wile | 202-624-8171 | Human Service
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education